Stories by John Walkenbach

Excel Charts: The Layout of the Land

The layout of a chart can make a big difference in its legibility. Consider two charts. Both use the same data. One contains two data series, one for each region. The other uses six data series, one for each month. Which is better? There is no correct answer. If your goal is to make month-by-month comparisons, the top chart is a better choice. If you want to emphasize trends in each region, the bottom chart works better.

Surprise, Surprise! Excel Can Handle Fractions

Some types of data, such as stock market quotes, normally display as fractions, not decimals. To enter a fraction in Microsoft Corp.'s Excel, type the whole number (or integer) followed by a space, and then type the fraction, using a slash (for example, 5/8). If you type only a fraction, Excel may interpret it as a date (so it might read 5/8 as May 8). To avoid this mistranslation, enter 0, a space, and then the fraction.


Excel users frequently ask me "How can I insert my company's logo into the page header?" The simple answer: You can't. Despite thousands of user requests, Microsoft Corp. hasn't made this feature available. But there are a few ways to fake it.

Share Your Spreadsheets on the Web

Excel 2000 makes it easier than ever to save a workbook in HTML format. After creating your workbook, use the File*Save as Web Page command. Specify what you want to save (a single worksheet or the entire workbook) and click the Save button. The result will be an HTML document and, possibly, a directory containing ancillary files; the number of such files varies with the complexity of your workbook. These files contain information, such as graphics and macros, that can't be stored in standard HTML format. When you post the HTML file on a Web server, you must include the files in the associated directory. You'll find that the HTML file survives "round-tripping." In other words, if you reopen the HTML file in Excel 2000, every element will be intact.